Songwriting Challenge

As per the weekly songwriting challenge this one is late to posting. I didn’t approach writing this song until two days ago, because I didn’t know how to distill down what I wanted to say into a few stanzas. I wish you to know these are personal opinions I’ve long held. I don’t wish to be inflammatory to the reader. It’s not this particular blog’s format to voice political/racial topics, but as it relates to expression through art, in this instance, music, I feel compelled to share the thrust behind the song I wrote.

With recent events concerning the Kamloops Residential School and watching the documentary Exterminate All the Brutes, by Raoul Peck earlier last week, my heart was (is) awash in a consuming sadness for the lack humanity we can inflict on others. I never will understand what it is that makes any one group subjugate another, and it’s sickening we build on this heinous legacy still today.

Why do we give our logic, reason and compassion over to charismatic individuals (dictators and religious leaders) believing we must do their will, follow their orders? What goes through the mind of someone under the influence of those characters? They surrender autonomy to their so called “greater cause;” they no longer think for themselves, falling under a kind of herd insanity perpetuated by delusional individuals in positions of authority. Fear plays the largest part in this scenario most certainly; fear of retribution by torture and death under a dictatorship (pressure from a physical presence, but one they could have, at the least, a slim chance to fight against) and fear of eternal damnation and suffering under religion (something invisible and deemed all powerful); both entities steeped in fear and control. What recourse does an individual feel they have within an existence of assumed hopelessness and incapability to rebuke their “authorities;” to think/believe it’s out of their hands because it comes from a “higher order,” which they interpret as exemption from all responsibility of any wrong doing. It’s easier to believe, to go along, than think critically.

Awareness, and courage to stand up and recognize social, religious and political madness when it presents itself, in all its guises, is lacking in us. I don’t have an answer. I wish I did.

We are ONE RACE. ONE SPIRIT. ONE HOME.

Believe D. Brint June 8, 2021

Before you did what can’t be undone, before the smoke blocked out the sun

What were you thinking just then, when you shut the doors and sealed them in

Did you question how this came to be or did you think, better them than me

It’s easier to believe

It’s easy when it’s out of our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The pure water washes them so clean

When you took that oath of love and light, what made you believe you had the right

To lay claim to all land and life, then chain the hands and force the knife

Believing your acts were sanctified, is this how your god is gratified

Its easier to believe

It’s easy when its out of our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The holy waters wash them so clean

Centuries long trail of blood and tears, carved under the boots of greed and fear

This merciless lust for domain over people, land and souls is profane

But we can find our crimes redeemed, cleansed in that pure water stream

It’s easier to believe

It’s easy when it’s not in our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The pure water washes them so clean

Monday Motivation

A friend shared this TED talk on her face book page and I’m glad she did. Charlie Mackesy is an artist, a cartoonist, an author of the children’s book; The boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. In this talk he shares his experience of bringing together a group of elderly people and freeing them up through drawing. His story is quite profound and inspired. Be Messy !

This Week

I picked up my mugs from K’s yesterday and, sigh, the clear glaze, again, didn’t quite do what it was supposed to do. I have to admit though that most of the mugs, although they didn’t come out as I had expected, are still acceptable. One in particular though- the photo top left, came out particularly heinous, but K said I could re-fire it to correct the “holes”. As you can see, the clear glaze fired whiteish and a little thick in places and clouded the detail I had painted, but on some of the pieces it also kind of “works” as part of the overall glaze effect. So, feeling somewhat ok about this batch of ceramics, (looking for perfection in imperfection!) But, we do have another clear glaze we are going to try out. It comes already mixed in a four quart container, and if that doesn’t work I will put aside underglazes for the time being until we get it figured out- I mean how hard can it be?! ( well, apparently….)

In the meantime I will revert to the usual glazes we normally see on pottery.

Got out for a sail yesterday, and although the winds were iffy to none (still indoctrinating Squilly -aka Sequoia- to sailing, so picking gentle weather days) we were entertained by a small pod of five Orcas for two hours! They were too far off for my iPhone camera, but close enough to see their details with the binoculars. There was a lot of full body breaching and tail lobs (slapping) the entire time! That much action is a rare occurrence to witness so maybe there were two happy groups meeting up and communicating, or they might have been hunting salmon, and communicating about the school of fish they found, who knows, but it was spectacular. After the first hour people heard the news of the pod and three Whale Watching boats showed up and then a few private power boats arrived to have look. All keeping a respectable distance from the pod.

The garden is growing, I have three support structures I need to build for the pole beans that are now four inches high- better get on that, like Jack and the beanstalk they grow fast from this point on. The pollinators are out in full force. This one bush in particular in my backyard, a Grevillea type- Canberra Gem, really attracts the bees, hummingbirds and butterfly’s and I managed to sneak a photo of this Western Tiger Swallowtail beauty.

Cheers!

Original songwriting challenge

A day late and a dollar short but here it is. I wrote this song today beginning to end, and rushed to record and post so to at least get it in the ballpark of the weekly challenge I set. The idea for this song began, as per usual it seems with this practice, as a very different story. But after several re writes another story began to emerge. Let me first say the inspiration for the song came from a hike Bob, his niece, and I did on Saturday. We had intended to hike up Mount Benson, a local mountain in Nanaimo. We did a bit of a climb but decided instead to descend and walk around the lake at the base of the mountain. Witchcraft Lake. We had our picnic lunch on the gravel shore next to the long, narrow, brown lake. It was a beautiful day entirely; warm and sunny, Squilly was in her unbounded glory, but of course the lake’s name stuck in me and had to be the theme for a song. I mused over it yesterday, and then spent all day today writing lyrics about the lake in a literal vein. It was when I decided to turn the lyric and tone of the song into a tale of loss and magic that it seemed to gel and take some shape. I had fun writing this.

Witchcraft Lake D. Brint May 31/2021

At the foot of the mountain where columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To the stoney shore of witchcraft lake

The water was cold and the colour so brown

With a hollow tree pale and sharp as a stake

And the wind whistled through it an eerie lament

That lulled my love at witchcraft lake.

The music was soothing, gentle and sweet

And he lay himself down on the cold grey slate

I saw his soul get spirited away into the depths of witchcraft lake

I ran to the waters edge calling his name all through the night until day break

Then I turned to find his body was gone

But his voice rose out of witchcraft lake

Turn and go he said, there’s nothing for you here to remain would be a grave mistake

And know that I love you but I’ll be free no more

My soul’s bound to witchcraft lake

I give you fair warning if you find yourself there to spare you from certain heartache

For if you tarry you’ll lose your love to the wiles of witchcraft lake

At the foot of the mountain where the columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To where my love lies deep in witchcraft lake

Monday motivation

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

These words bring me some comfort. Of course we all want to do things as well as we can, become “proficient” at our craft, take pride in a task well done, a skill mastered. And we do want it to be perfect. When it isn’t, many of us chastise ourselves feeling we’ve missed the mark (hello). I hold myself accountable to that, and with following through with a project, and I feel a little anxiousness build when I begin to slip. A fear of not perfectly accomplishing what I set out for myself; if I let that slip then all may be lost. (which, I am aware, is a ridiculous thought- but there it is). I also understand that to let this anxiousness dominate is counter-productive to creative thought and practice, nothing will come of it but tension. But, I can get caught up in a vicious cycle when this dynamic happens.

I am noticing more often now what my mind set is when I enter into a creative head space; funny I never paid attention to this before. But I do believe that over the last several months, maybe the last year, and with the help of committing to this blog, I’ve been conditioning myself to build and recognize the climate that allows creativity to expand and to overtake the mundane, and I have become aware of how this “feels.” I have been able to keep more ideas for art/creative work as the frontrunner in my thoughts and daily structure. Interestingly, I am becoming familiar with how I prepare myself internally, how I encapsulate my attention and focus. And I’m familiar with how satisfying it is to blur my surroundings and sharpen my vision to only the creative work at hand. This is a space I love to be in. A space I had forgotten I once inhabited a long time ago when an art student. I can honestly forget everything (and everyone) else and submerge into that space. An alienating prospect for an artist’s non artist spouse! (fortunately, he understands and supports)

Life has had, and continues to have, its myriad of distractions, pleasant and otherwise, that will always vie for attention. My aim now is for balance while keeping my inner eye trained on a soft but protective boundary that encircles my creative space. I can find a modicum of perfection in that arrangement. As for the work coming out of that arrangement, I will look for the perfection in its imperfection.

A bit of a ramble.

Cheers~

This Week

I suppose the title should read The Last Two Weeks since I didn’t post last Thursday. As I had mentioned on my Sunday Songwriting post (that was posted a week late)- things got busy with putting the vegetable gardens in, errands into town to get stuff for the gardens etc. We also managed to get out for a sail one beautiful sunny day, our first of the season, and Squillie’s first sail ever. We picked a calm day with light winds so she wouldn’t feel threatened when the boat leaned when under sail. She did great! Nervous, but she held her composure like a champ for our four hour cruise in the Strait of Georgia

Sequoia’s first sail

I’ve been getting some writing done in the mornings. It’s funny that I am retired, my schedule is of my own making, and yet to lock myself down in the chair for three hours in the morning is harder than it sounds. Especially this time of year. I’d already been out for my two mile walk at six thirty, I make breakfast, wash up and now, I say to myself, sit down to work. But the sun is up and the day outside beckons me like a cheerleader with a bullhorn. So I think, maybe I should do the outside work first, then come in and write. And many times I do that, because I feel guilty for being in the house at my desk until noon when the day is gorgeous. That arrangement doesn’t help my writing, I know my best time for doing anything creative is at the start of the day, when my energy is winding up and I really need to honour that. By the afternoon I really lack any creative focus other than making dinner.

I spent three hours today putting the final clear glaze on my clay work- at last! That was a long wait for the first firing. I was excited to see my mugs, it’s been a couple of months, and I was concerned about how much they may have shrunk in the firing, as has been the case with my past pieces. When I saw them today I was really happy to see their size was just what I wanted, and really happy with my designs and underglaze colours. K usually has the clear glaze already mixed up, but not this time, so I made up a big bowl of clear glaze and set to work dipping the mugs. Now the wait for the final firing and keeping my fingers crossed the clear glaze doesn’t come out milky and too thick this time. This last firing phase has been the frustrating part for me, the time and effort spent in making the pieces, and then the end product is less than satisfactory. But here’s hoping for a stunning reveal this time!

This is how the pieces look before I coat them with clear glaze, which doesn’t look clear at all when its applied just white and chalky. Now they wait for the glaze firing – the final fire- and oh I hope they emerge like little jewels!

Cheers!

This Week

Spent a day with a good friend, then another day with my sister as we walked through Little Qualicum falls, and also rummaged in a vintage store where found a sweet small cake stand. Then I spent a bit of time wondering the abandoned exhibition grounds at Beban Park while Bob got his vaccination, and took some photos. All in all a recharging week off the little rock I call home and found some inspiration in my escapades.

Motivation Monday

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Pablo Picasso

Easier said than done! As we grow up we become layered over time with so many “should’s” and “better not’s” and “what will people say” that we shrink into a homogenous, bland, colourless expression of our child selves for the sake of “fitting in” to the stats quo.

I’m going to keep looking for ways to allow some of my actions/ activities to fall under the definitions of Just because and Why not.

Sunday Original Song Challenge

It was written yesterday in one shot. Not expecting to write on this topic, I was writing words on something else – a tragically sad experience – but it wasn’t coming. Then I wrote the first line; Nothing I can do to make things better, (that I later changed to Nothing is feeling much better) and the rest of the lyrics just rolled out.

Fellow Man D.Brint, May 8/21

Nothing is feeling much better, with my back against the wall

Can’t help but feel the pressure, question the sense of right and wrong

One side says we must do more, others say to do less

Some ask what’s it all for, sometimes I agree I must confess

Does anyone ever have the answers

Is someone drawing up a better plan

Is humanity really making advances

For the good of the fellow man

Conflict always follows us, like a dog snapping at our heels

Like a ride we can’t get of off, caught in the spokes of a spinning wheel

And the sun still rises, the moon shines on the sea

They watch over our crisis, impartial to you and me

There’s trouble in the east, and in the west, fights in the south, the north is melting

We’ve seen the powerful undressed, we’ve joined the throngs of protest marching

And it’s round and round day after day, corruption sits in the power seat

Deaf to why it has to be that way, dumb and blind with greed and conceit

Does anybody ever have the answers

Is someone drawing up a master plan

Is humanity really making advances

For the good of the fellow man

This week

This post was scheduled for last Thursday, but didn’t get out- so here it is.

This week was a nourishing one. I spent three days alone in Victoria, only leaving my suite for a two hour waterfront walk in the late afternoon. The stay was specifically to do research for a project I have on the go, and my choice of accommodation was most relevant to the project. I embraced the solitude and undistracted time. No TV, no outside music, or people. Just my guitar, books, paper, pen, sketch book and laptop. I even brought prepared food from home, so no restaurant eating, (except for the take out burger from the Ogden Point bistro on my last day-it was an amazing burger!)

The songwriting is still fun, although I was late with this last one, posting it Tuesday morning- I had begun to write it while away on my stay, but didn’t complete it there, thinking I still have time when I get home. But as life is as life does, one thing and then another, it was suddenly Sunday. I thought ok, I’ll post Monday, and worked on it -between pleasant domestic distractions- thinking I would get it out Monday night. Wound up working on it until midnight.

The lyrics I was tackling felt so “big” in that I had a lot of emotion and story I wanted to convey and I struggled in how to distill it down. This is the amazing thing I’m discovering with this particular creative practice and what I love about the challenge. Also, having the deadline is important for anti-procrastination purposes! And then posting it gives it viability. In my mind anyway.

It would be the same with writing poetry, but working out a melody to add to it is another level! I’ll keep hammering away to see how it all transpires over time. My college art professor had our class draw the same nude model over and over each day. His theory, and I agree completely with it, was the repetition eventually brings new ideas, new ways of seeing the model- probably out of boredom!- but innovation begins to take place; how can I do this differently, what else am I seeing here, what if I do this or that? I’m using the same theory in my songwriting challenge.

Right now my guitar playing is limited, my lyrics and melodies monotonous and stilted, but (and it’s a big but) over time maybe something will open up. How long do I give myself? That I don’t know, or even want to impose that on the practice, but for the time being I find it very cathartic.

My desk and pages and pages of rough drafts of lyrics!

Cheers~

Sunday Original Song Challenge

Ok, two days late.

Inspired by Canadian Artist Emily Carr. I stared writing this while I was away this week and finished it last night at midnight; recorded it this morning, which is why I sound like a wrung rag. Oh, and May the 4th be with you 🙂

EMILY

D.Brint, May 4

I saw your ghost through the trees, you were walking through the garden, the place you loved

Your arms were full of white lilies, your voice like the coo of a dove.

You came on the bite of a winter storm, a tempest in your eyes, a heart untamed

From where the wild things are born, that hands of nature ordained

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

The western forest deep and ethereal set fire to your soul, the light that guides you

Your own sacred cathedral, your passion, your truth

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

When you felt your world so hostile you took shelter under eagles wings

Your eyrie high as a steeple, safe in the solace it brings

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

You walk alone in your forest home, Emily

Monday motivation

“Creativity is something you practice. You can’t be creative if you’re constantly censuring yourself. Don’t get ready, get started!”

Book, Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and rewards) of Art Making, by David Bayles &Ted Orland

Found this quote I had scribbled, who knows when, on a yellow legal pad while flipping to find fresh paper. Now I’m reminded, I need to get this book!

This week

This week marked my sixty-third sail around the sun, and feeling just fine with the added years. In fact I embrace them. I feel fuller, richer, and more calm now than in my bumbling, awkward youth thank you very much; as long as I can keep the body in good health.

This week also is host to my best “Artist’s date” yet. Currently I’m sequestered in Emily Carr’s historical artist’s studio for three days; soaking in the ambiance. I am re-reading the books I have about her as I take in the exact location she inhabited, the very spot where her life’s work came out of obscurity, where, in my mind and in the minds of many, she took her (unofficial) place as a member of the Canadian Group of Seven, representing the West. But then, she is in good company as a non member; Tom Thompson, the artist most thought of as part of the group is not in fact a member either. So, if you’ll excuse this brief post, I’ve got to get back to it.

Cheers!

Monday motivation

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

The saying; There is nothing new under the sun, is a truth, but our added perspectives are valuable and worthy to further understanding and insights and explorations of a theme or idea. In that, we “re-discover” something new.

Sunday Original Song Challenge

This song barely made the Sunday deadline! I wrote half of the lyrics yesterday afternoon and the rest this morning and put the final music to it this afternoon. Then it takes me several, and I mean several takes to get the recording down. All week I couldn’t seem to find reflective time to work on lyrics, waiting for nudges or cues to come to my attention. But by Saturday I made the time, made space, for something to come, whatever it would be. I started just writing on an idea, whatever words came up, free association, then scraped what I had. Then I played a chord progression – C/F/G and hummed hoping to coax out some words, and what came out was carry them down. It immediately felt like coal mining, which is what my city and my little island is steeped in. Strange that that theme was not on my radar at all initially, but came out regardless. One of the fascinations I have with Writing; who’s doing the writing or am I being written? So off I went with writing the rest of the song.

So it seems fitting to include a link to my short story “Pocket Watch” about the story of Protection Islands coal mining tragedy.

Carry Them Down D.Brint April 25/21

Carry them down, deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Living by the lamp the air cold and damp

Stooping low to work that seam

They’ve come from so far to be where they are

Digging down their roots for a dream

Carry them down deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Heeding the call there was work for them all

There was land and steady pay

Earned by a hard run both father and son

Clawing Dunsmuir coal from the clay

Carry them down deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Like a mole in that deep dark hole

Swallowed into the belly of a snake

Each man devoured by long tunnels and hours

A cruel barter that seals their fate

Carry them down, deep down in the ground

Into that long black hollow

There they’ll stay the rest of days

They’ll not again come on the morrow.

This Week

I got down into the studio this week and threw eight bowls, and am now just about out of clay. A trip up island to replenish soon. Still waiting for the last batch of mugs to be bisque fired. I can’t wait to see how they’ll come out. My potter friend who owns the kiln is busy making pieces too to fill the kiln. I don’t know what I would do if she moved off the island, I have no room for a kiln at my place! I’m hoping to sell my ocean kayak and buy a new electric wheel. The one I currently have was purchased from one of my neighbours, an old and very noisy electric kick wheel, but the $75 price tag was too good to pass up and it was already on the island. The steel fly wheel on it alone weighs 140 pounds, and it was a real grunt just to move it from my neighbours house to mine. It works fine, but my ears take a beating each session. A light, silent wheel would be more fine. I’d be able to hear the music playing.

The songwriting challenge keeps me engaged. I am not a songwriter, never wrote a song before this challenge, and I’m not an accomplished guitar player. That’s the whole point of the challenge. Posting the videos on Youtube is out of my comfort zone but I’m doing it. Posting the videos at all is out of my comfort zone! I think it could be called Passive Performance. I never intend to actually “Perform” the songs I’m writing, nooooooo, nooo. Nobody wants that. I’m interested in writing a lyric and seeing if I can put a melody to it, a creative exercise. When I stop enjoying the process I’ll stop the challenge. Spent today on a good long six mile walk with Bob and Squilly. Beauty day, lots of wind and waves. Bring on summer!

Cheers ~

Monday Motivation

“It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuff that comes to you from the inner workings of your mind. Block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down, that’s where true creativity comes from.” Bob Dylan

Sunday original Song Challenge

This came out as a rather long song, over 4 minutes of your life you won’t get back if you listen to it. Thank you for your time if you do. It started off with an offhand thought of the phrase, days like these, and went from there. Yes, I did have soooo many great concerts lined up for the summer and into the fall….

Days Like Those D. Brint, April 17/21

I was hanging out in cafe’s, I was out shopping for shoes

There was a bustle out on main street, and family BBQ’s

I was planning my vacation, I was booking my hotel

I was hugging all my friends up until

Days like those became days like these

Got to go with the flow, but we’re on our knees, with days like these

I had tickets to my favourite concerts, I was going to the movies

I was meeting friends for lunch, and going out for sushi

We gathered around the table, we gathered in small rooms

We shook hands with total strangers whose hands weren’t so well groomed

Days like those…

Last year I saw whole faces when I went to the grocery store

Saw their smiles heard their voices as they came and went through the doors

My friend just out of surgery, I sat at his bedside

Nurses weren’t so tired then, not so much anyway

Days like those…

These days became a waiting game, looking for ways to bide our time

Learned a language, reno’d the kitchen

Took up macrame and made a batch of wine

Days like those…

This Week

There is something entirely enchanting and inviting about a wooden boardwalk that leads to the ocean. A portal, transportive, a runway to run away on and find yourself elsewhere.

Not complaining, but I miss travel….

Sunday Original Song Challenge

Here is week 5 in the challenge. This song comes out of what I think everyone has gone or is going through. Words are many things, but the hardest ones are ones left unspoken.

Words D.Brint, April 10, 2021

Words are fickle things, the easy way they fall from our lips

And words can be heavy things, smooth and dark as a stone on the tongue

Words are wasted things, tossed like pennies in a shallow pool

Or locked down deep inside, till the last breath from our lungs

Words can come too late, thinking we have the time

To voice the things that’s in our hearts

To say the things we meant to say

And I am here, but you’re not here to hear the words I have for you

They’re grounded like wounded bird

Whose colours have turned to grey